Changing out a bearing stuck in between other components on a shaft can be quite challenging under normal conditions. But if this happens to be an emergency breakdown on a mine site, the task of replacing the bearing quickly is enough to give any site technician a headache.

As Alan Burt, Senior Service and Application Engineer at Schaeffler explains, bearings in mining applications can get corroded and jammed onto the shaft under the mine’s harsh working conditions, making bearing changeouts a serious challenge.

“In some cases, you may end up destroying or damaging gearboxes and couplings mounted on the shaft just to be able to replace the bearings on the inside,” says Alan.

The answer to the problem, Alan explains, is using split type bearings. As a pioneer in the design and manufacture of split spherical roller bearings, Schaeffler was among the first global bearing manufacturers to introduce this type of bearing to the market.

“The concept of split bearings started a few decades ago when our customers were looking for easier ways to replace solid bearing mounted on adapter sleeves, without having to remove couplings or dismounting drive systems. The first generation of Schaeffler’s split spherical roller bearings were the 222 series. Over the years, Schaeffler has introduced a wide range of split bearings for both metric and imperial shaft diameters. The 230 & 231-series is popular in Australia, with far reaching applications in conveyor systems, bucket wheel excavators, mills, crushers and even fans and ventilators.”

As the benefits of using split spherical roller bearings instead of solid bearings in hard-to-access locations became evident, Alan says more and more mines have started ordering them in larger quantities.

“We have been carrying a range of the 231 series split spherical roller bearings for many years and recently a number of major mining companies in Australia have started using them heavily across their operations, particularly on conveyor systems. We have also been installing large split bearings in winders that transport bulk materials and people in vertical shafts, which are very similar to large split bearings used in bucket wheel excavators,” he says.

The simplicity of Schaeffler’s split bearings’ design is another key factor in encouraging their increased uptake by the industry, as Alan points out.

“The design of Schaeffler’s split spherical roller bearings is quite simple and most technicians can understand how it goes together without much complexity. If you look at the bearing industry, mounting a bearing on an adaptive sleeve can be quite complex and mistakes can be made. But with our split bearings, most tradespeople find that if they just follow the assembly instructions, it’s quite easy.”

CBC Mechanical Engineer, Harrison Hart, says one of CBC’s major mining clients in Western Australia relies on CBC’s support to stock spares of the Schaeffler split spherical roller bearings for emergency repairs on its critical bucket wheel reclaimers. As Australia’s largest distributor of bearings and engineering solutions, CBC supports major mines across Australia with their bearing-related requirements.

“Our customers appreciate the ability to replace the bearings in-situ, without having to replace all of the components around it. This saves a huge amount of time, which is crucial to ensure the customer is not losing money whilst their plant is down. Many of our customers prefer to replace their existing standard solid bearings with a split bearing whenever a changeout is required.”

Harrison says the maintenance of split bearings is also quite straightforward, as it follows the same lubrication and maintenance process as the standard solid bearing.

“Split bearings are gaining more popularity across all industries, particularly in mining applications, as end users gain a better understanding of their benefits. As long-term partners with major bearing manufacturers such as Schaeffler, the CBC team has been supporting major mines with their bearing requirements and our years of experience in this area places us in a favorable position to support our customers.”